Ocean acidification may create an impact similar to extinction on marine ecosystems, according to a study published Monday.
The study, exploring naturally acidic waters near volcanic vents in the Mediterranean Ocean off Italy, suggests that ocean acidification as a result of human emissions can degrade entire ecosystems – not just individual species, as past studies have shown.
The result, scientists say, is a homogenized marine community dominated by fewer plants and animals.
“The background, low-grade stress caused by ocean acidification can cause a whole shift in the ecosystem so that everything is dominated by the same plants, which tend to be turf algae,” said lead author Kristy Kroeker, a postdoctoral researcher at the Bodega Marine Laboratory at the University of California, Davis.
The study was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.